A number of psychology programs across the nation have landed education and training grants from the newly established federal Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) program, which funds APA-accredited doctoral and internship programs that train health-service psychologists to work with underserved populations.
Names of the winners were not available at Monitor press time, but a listing was due to be posted on the Education Advocacy Web site in October at www.apa.org/ppo/edppo.html. Each grant-winning program will receive $100,000 to $130,000 of the $2 million in GPE's coffers, announced Terri Spear, a coordinator of the program for the Bureau of Health Professions (BHP), at an APA Annual Convention breakfast.
The awards mark an important milestone for psychology education, given that this is the first time the government has designated a funding program solely for psychology.
Psychology programs can use GPE funds for trainee stipends, faculty and curriculum development, demonstration programs and technical assistance. And more programs stand to benefit from them because APA's Education Advocacy staff have persuaded the U.S. Senate to allot another $2 million to continue GPE in 2003. Moreover, with the assistance of APA's Office on Aging, the Senate approved an additional $3 million to fund geropsychology training, starting next year.
The Senate funding is significant, said Nina Levitt, EdD, APA's director for education policy, because "legislators in both houses are recognizing psychology education and training as worthy of this level of support." She added that, "it's particularly meaningful because they did it under very difficult budget circumstances due to a weak economy, homeland security, prescription drugs and wildfires, to name a few."
Spear and her colleagues at BHP speedily set up the new GPE program once Congress officially sanctioned it late last year: This year's grant applicants submitted their paperwork by May 20, and, if all goes as planned, they will have received their grants by the end of this month. Likening the building of GPE to constructing a new home, Spear said, "GPE is framed. The first program is up and running. Now it's time for a finishing crew to come in and do the finished work....We've got the roof on. We're just about to unlock the door."
The grant winners were selected from an applicant pool of 63 programs--two-thirds of them internship programs and a third of them doctoral programs. In considering the applications, 30 reviewers looked for evidence of an interdisciplinary collaboration, specific plans for fund use and an underserved focus, such as work with older persons, children, rural communities, victims of terror and abuse, and people with disabilities or chronic illness.
If APA gains the $5 million in continued GPE funding plus additional earmarked funds for training to work with the elderly, pending approval by the U.S. House of Representatives, the same office within BHP will award funding for GPE, with a dedicated stream of funds for geropsychology training. APA's Education Advocacy staff largely credit Sen. Tom Harkin (D- Iowa), chair of the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee, for getting the new funding approved in the Senate. And they're hopeful that the House will grant final approval, given the support of Reps. Bill Young (R- Fla.) and Ralph Regula (R- Ohio).
APA members--particularly Herbert Goldstein, PhD, and Robert Devies, PhD, on the House side and Peter Nathan, PhD, on the Senate side--have proven key in winning congressional support for the programs. Psychologists' advocacy is what has launched the programs, but their continued advocacy is needed to keep them alive and thriving, and to help the Education Directorate realize its ultimate goal of winning $20 million for GPE, said Levitt. She urged psychologists to join APA's grassroots network (e-mail; Web site: www.apa.org/ppo/edppo.html) and to call, write and meet with their congressional representatives to ensure that psychology education continues to make gains.